The Russell Effect

Big Brother spoilers follow.  You have been warned.

I'll start off by saying that I think Ian is a perfectly fine winner.  A few weeks ago, I told Wife that I was rooting for Frank, Ian, or Dan to win.  So this definitely isn't a season where someone who didn't deserve it got the nod.  Ian played a smart game, made some good moves, and won competitions when he needed to win.  However, it bears pointing out that he also got insanely lucky.  Had Dan not beguiled Danielle into using the veto on Dan, resulting in Shane getting evicted, Ian would have been on the jury.  Ian owes his money far more to Dan's gameplay than his own.

Which brings us to Dan.  No matter how you look at it, the his survival to the final two was nothing short of miraculous.  Actually, that's unfair to Dan.  It wasn't divine intervention that got him there, it was a lot of hard, meticulous work.  The man tapdanced, frog-stepped, backflipped and pirouetted to the finals.  His adeptness at keeping himself alive and getting others to do his bidding was a thing of beauty to behold.  Janelle was right when she said that Dan not winning was a travesty.

Except that it wasn't.  Dan fell victim to the Russell Effect.  He was so focused on reaching the finals that he lost sight of what it was costing him to get there.  I actually think he was fine right up until he pulled the Shane switcheroo.  Had Ian gone home that week and Dan made it to the finals, I think he would have beaten Shane or Danielle.  Then again, without that switcheroo he might not have made it that far.  Shane would have taken Danielle, and after the gymnastics date they went on together, Danielle might well have taken Shane.  Dan would have had to win the final HoH competition to secure his position in the finals, and with only 2 correct answers it's unlikely he would have done so.  I got the sense that the jury didn't object to the betrayals themselves, but rather the levels of the promises he broke: swearing on the bible, his wife's name, his grandfather's cross (was it really his grandfather's cross?  How brilliant would it be if Dan had lied to Ian about that to make his promise seem more ironclad, but in fact it was just a dime store piece of jewelry?).  By raising the stakes with those oaths and then going back on them, Dan invited the jury to question his character.  Where a juror might judge themselves a hypocrite for knocking Dan for doing the same sort of lying they did but getting further in the game with it, they could feel morally superior to Dan because they hadn't broken oaths.  Just about everyone lies at some point during Big Brother, if for no other reason than to lay low and keep the heat off themselves.  Swearing on a loved one, however, crosses a line for most people, and Dan failed to factor that into his calculations.

Dan does deserve special mention for getting not one, but both of his opponents to throw the first stage of the final HoH competition.  Insanity!  Ironically, Dan probably had a better chance of success in round 2 than Danielle had.

This was the best season of Big Brother in recent memory.  On to Survivor!

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